What is the story about?
The life of 50s something Madhusudhan Gavhane revolves around an elderly home (Nirupama) he runs in Kolkata. Having lost his wife Bhakti to an ailment many decades ago, he’s survived by a son Tapan, a young philosophy lecturer. The father and son share a detached equation since the death of Bhakti. Even years after the incident, an introverted Tapan is reluctant to move on and doesn’t care for his father despite living under the same roof. Tapan’s gloomy life takes a turn for the better once he meets a Marathi-speaking fashion stylist Ashima. The two find solace in each other’s company and marry at the behest of Madhusudhan. What change would this chapter usher in his life?
Filmmaker Shubho Basu Nag’s Avwanchhit – the title loosely translating to unwanted – mirrors the vulnerable passage of life at old-age homes. The premise is poetic, about a man (Madhusudhan) running such a home, who feels lonely even in the presence of his son (Tapan). The elders at the home are family to him, probably even more than Tapan. Tapan’s indifference towards Madhu isn’t unfounded– it just establishes the reality that some wounds may not heal regardless of time. Madhu isn’t also the proactive father who makes the effort to talk this out with his son. Let’s say he’s old-fashioned and is content keeping things to himself.
In a story surrounding the elderly, it would’ve been convenient for the writer to have gone on a ranting spree in blaming a generation for the plight of their parents (which the film does to an extent). The director doesn’t simply make this a tale about the father but also tries to understand the many reasons behind the son’s pent-up anger. The father is obsessed with the (elderly) home through his life, even at the cost of his son’s childhood and wife’s health. By the time he realises his mistakes, it’s a little too late. The story is about two men at different junctures in life coming to terms with a complex situation.
The melodrama in select portions resembles the vibe of a television soap in the subplots about ageing parents and negligent children. The repetitive use of the flashback footage gets irritating at times. Despite overstating the obvious, the film is sincere in its attempt to showcase the plight of the elderly – the sequence where an army veteran suffering from amnesia meets Ashima leaves a lump in your throat. The many struggles of running an elderly home are depicted with a pinch of salt.
The Kolkata backdrop to Marathi-speaking characters is refreshing. The romance between Ashima and Tapan is a breeze and surprisingly un-fluffy. The woman has a mind of her own and is treated like an equal to the man in her life. The mischievous camaraderie between Mithin Das and Madhusudhan is enjoyable. The nostalgia surrounding Madhusudhan’s old home and his subsequent discomfort in adapting to a gated community. The climax hits you hard and tugs at your heartstrings.
Avwanchhit is tailor-made for OTT viewing – the absence of star appeal is compensated by the relevant premise. Though the treatment’s slightly outdated, it has its heart in the right place.
Kishor Kadam is the lifeline of Avwanchhit – his understated portrayal of an ageing man and his vulnerabilities wins you over instantly. Abhay Mahajan gets an equally layered, complex role of a youngster who never gets along with his father. Though his performance isn’t as effortless as his senior counterpart, he does justice to the character. Mrinmayee Godbole’s character may have needed more meat. Nevertheless, she has a striking screen presence and brings authority to her act. The ever-dependable Mohan Agashe is enjoyable in a spirited performance, while one would’ve wanted to see more of Mrinal Kulkarni. Rohit Mane, Barun Chanda and Suhasini Joshi prove their experience in their brief roles yet again.
Music & Other Departments
Anupam Roy’s sensitive music score stays true to the essence of the story – be it in instances of gloom, happiness or helplessness. Atul Chandrakant Jagdale’s cinematography pays a humble ode to the spirit of Kolkata and its changing aesthetic over the years. Editor Nitin Rokade strings together a reasonably engaging narrative though he could’ve done away with the repetitive portions that overemphasise the intent of the story. The dialogues are to-the-point and simple. The writing is effective but would’ve been helped by more realism and lesser cinematic liberties.
- The relevant story, effective climax
- Kishor Kadam’s superb performance
- The Kolkata backdrop to the story
The soapy treatment
Predictable in most parts
Did I enjoy it?
Do I recommend it?